Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cerner’s move will impact all facets of business in Legends/West Village

February 27, 2013

Cerner Corporation has already changed the skyline of western Wyandotte County with the first of the twin nine-story towers rushing toward completion on its State Avenue campus. But area business leaders say the project has the potential to make greater changes to the county’s landscape and economy.

Cindy Cash, president and CEO of the Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce, said Wyandotte County, and the Legends/West Village area in particular, have experienced many large and exciting projects since work started in 1999 on the Kansas Speedway. But, she said, the Cerner towers being built on a 58-acre campus on the southwest corner of State Avenue and West Village Parkway could take the county and the immediate area in a different direction.

Cerner Corporation, a North Kansas City, Mo., based health care software developer, broke ground on the first of the towers in March 2012 and it’s expected to be completed in mid-year. The company announced in September that it would start work early on the second tower and that building now is expected to be finished near the end of 2014.

Cash noted the different nature of the development and its potential to be a difference maker was found in the name the project: Cerner Continuous Campus. The name reveals Cerner Corporation’s staffing plans for the 4,000 employees who will eventually work in the new Wyandotte County home of the company’s ITWorks, which manages the internal computer networks of health-care providers Cerner serves, and RevWorks, which assists clients in their billings, reimbursements and other accounting areas.

Cash said those employees would start to have an effect when the first 1,000 workers report to work in Wyandotte County with the opening of the first tower.

“That’s going to be a continuous campus,” Cash said. “There’s going to be activity in that world around the clock.”

The 24-hour staffing would offer new opportunities to restaurants and retail establishments, Cash said. And the frequent clients Cerner has indicated would visit the new towers would benefit Wyandotte County’s motels and hotels, she said.

She agrees with a statement that Kansas City, Kan./Wyandotte County Unified Government Mayor Joe Reardon made last year that the Cerner development could lead those doing business with the company or those firms in similar or associated ventures to locate nearby.

Cash noted the two towers would be very visible marketing tools for recruiting those or other businesses to the county.

“It’s another piece of the development puzzle,” she said. “We are looking at two office buildings on the I-435 corridor. We hope it opens up other opportunities for more office towers on the corridor as other companies are intrigued by what is happening on State Avenue.”

Cerner’s development agreement with the state made available $147 million in STAR bonds financing for the campus. In addition, the promise of 4,000 new jobs in the state with an average yearly salary of $54,000 leveraged additional incentives. Matt Keith, communications assistant with the Kansas Department of Commerce, said the project qualified for $78.25 million in tax credits and saving through the state’s IMPACT funds, High Performance Incentive Program and other programs. It is in line for addition personal property tax savings through Enterprise Zone job credits, the amount of which will be determined when the value of the development is established, he said.

Peggy Pugh, branch manager of Reece & Nichols Realty’s Wyandotte County office, said the promise of those new jobs was already affecting the local residential real estate market, pointing to a 306-unit apartment complex being built on North 110th Street between State Avenue and Parallel Parkway.

Although those apartments would capture some of the new Cerner employees, she is confident many would look for new homes within the county. That is a prospect on developers’ radar, but most were taking a wait-and-see approach until the towers are finished and start populating, she said.

“In the best-case scenario, we’d like to get some of them — at least half,” she said. “There’s good access to the north and south, so it should benefit the entire county.”

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